Educational Toys – Are They Really Educational?

Educational Toys – Are They Really Educational?

Children love to play and it is the most natural way for them to learn. Toys can provide a means for parents and or caregivers to connect relationally with children through play. Studies show that learning is enhanced as parents – caregivers participate in the activities of their children. Interaction during play also provides opportunities for parents – caregivers to observe the various skills that are developing and continue to build upon them as well as observe under developed areas and help these areas to grow.

According to the NPD Group, a leading market research company, the toy manufacturing industry boasted $21.64 billion in sales in 2008. This may or may not surprise you, but toy sales in 2008 in a shaky and uncertain economy were only down 4% from toy sales in 2006 when the USA seemed to be enjoying a stable and even growing economy. Many toy manufacturers make claims that their products will facilitate learning and growth in the six crucial areas of early childhood development. But do they really?

Children from infancy to six years of age will experience some positive growth and development with almost any toy that they engage during playtime because their brain is being stimulated and is gathering information with every experience. This is why parents – caregivers should seek advice from a pediatrician or an educator who specializes in early childhood education and development as to what toys will be best suited for their child. In doing this parents – caregivers will discover that the best educational toy is not what a manufacturer may claim, but the one that works best at stimulating interaction with them and their child. Toys are not a substitute to keep children busy by themselves, but an avenue to support loving, caring interaction and relationship building.

On Monday October 5, 2009 my wife and I welcomed our fifth grandchild, a boy, into our family. As I observed him in the hospital nursery waving his little arms and legs shortly after his birth I could not help myself from thinking that his brain was already preparing him for the world around him. With that, here a few ideas that may help you when looking for educational toys for your child…

Look for age appropriate toys that will challenge their imagination. Problem solving helps prepare them for real life situations

Look for toys with your child in mind. Like everything else, trends find their way in the toy market also and may not be suitable toy(s) for your child

Do not fall prey to claims made by advertisers. Many educational toys have greatly improved in recent years, but some are more entertaining than educational. A little personal research on your part can reveal a lot.

Safety first. Is the toy safe for your child? Remember 1 – 2 year olds like putting things in their mouth

Stay away from any toy that promotes even the slightest hint of violence or negative social behavior

When in doubt, seek the advice of a pediatrician or an early childhood education and development educator – specialist

With the 2009 holiday season quickly approaching many parents – caregivers will purchase toys for their children. However, while choosing toys that will aid in your child’s educational development, it is important for parents – caregivers to keep in mind, their personal interaction with their child is the best gift that they can give.